Pats' Cox wonders if he'll get the chance to be a coach or exec

Wednesday, January 30, 2002

NEW ORLEANS -- Bryan Cox would like to coach in the NFL or even run a team. He's not sure he'll get the chance.

The 33-year-old linebacker with the New England Patriots knows the end of his career is near. He doesn't have a contact for next season, and forsees a scenario where Sunday's Super Bowl against St. Louis will be his final NFL game.

After that? He'd like to remain in pro football, working in the front office somewhere. But on Tuesday, he was pessimistic about that happening.

"I want to be a personnel manager or a coach, but I am not playing on a level field," Cox said, questioning why so few minorities have significant management positions on NFL teams. "The chances are not even 90-10 for me to become a general manager or a personnel director or a head coach. It just doesn't match the number of minorities."

Cox claimed that just two of every 100 front office jobs go to minorities, while 70 percent of the players in the league are black -- "and that's not a very good percentage. They are not putting us on an equal plane with the other candidates," he said.

During his early seasons with Miami, Chicago and the Jets, Cox was known as much for his outrageous behavior and the huge fines they drew as for his play. He has mellowed a bit, but not that much.

"Give me a meaningful job," he said. "The years I put in this league should earn that for me. I'm smart enough to play in your league. I'm also smart enough to coach in your league.

"I wish this league would take time to look at minorities and seriously consider them for jobs -- and not, 'OK, we're giving you guys a look.' Well, you're really not giving us a look, you are embarrassing yourselves."

Most embarrassing, Cox said, was placing tapes about minority coaches in a video library for use by NFL teams looking to hire assistants.

'It is a slap in the face," he said. "Other candidates don't go through that."

Actually, they do. League spokesman Greg Aiello explained that all potential coaching candidates are placed in the video library, and that the NFL had record numbers of minority assistants and coordinators this season.

"The library includes white coaches, too," Aiello said. "That's just a way to get to know who the candidates are.

"This year we had 147 black assistants (out of approximately 475 overall) and 12 black coordinators (out of 62), and that's a pipeline for future head coaches."

Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' vice president of player personnel, was the league's 2000 Executive of the Year. When Tony Dungy was fired by the Buccaneers early in January, he almost immediately was hired to coach the Colts.

Two black defensive coordinators, Ted Cottrell of the Jets and Marvin Lewis of the Ravens, were interviewed for head coach openings this month. Another, Rams defensive coordinator Lovie Smith, is in the running for the Tampa Bay job that has not been filled.

"When the opportunity is right, it'll come," Smith said. "Right now we have a lot of unfinished business and I'm just enjoying being the defensive coordinator for the Rams.

"I think eventually it's going to happen. But right now you've got to enjoy where you are."

While Cox certainly enjoys being where he is, in his first Super Bowl, he also sees it as a forum for important issues. And if Cox has been anything during more than a decade in the NFL, he has been outspoken.

"This hits me in the heart and needs to be talked about," he said. "Nothing is being done; the process is so slow.

"The biggest disappointment certainly is Marvin Lewis. He's had a top five defense for years, but this year jobs open up and his name is not even spoken.

"There's a trend now where people are not even coordinators and they are jumping to the forefront," he added, mentioning the Jets' Herman Edwards, who is the only other black head coach besides Dungy. "That process is not fair, as well. If I put my time in as a coordinator, I deserve a chance.

Rams linebacker Don Davis believes Cox is seeing only the negative side of a multi-faceted subject. Davis also hopes to coach when he stops playing -- he is 29 and isn't thinking retirement yet.

"The opportunties will be there, I believe that," Davis said. "We see a lot of powerful CEOs in the new millennium who are minorities and you wouldn't have seen that 10 years ago. The tide is changing.

"I will coach. I have a calling for it. It's too bad if Bryan believes it will not change. If our ancestors had been pessimistic in (their) day, we would not be free now. I believe there will be plenty of opportunities for us."

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